Matchday 22: Union Face United in D.C.

Matchday 22: Union Face United in D.C.

The Union, who have lost two straight games for the first time since interim coach John Hackworth too over, look to right the ship this evening in D.C. against United (5PM/NBCSN). The Union may catch a break as United may be without perennial All-Star Dwayne De Rosario, who missed D.C.'s last match, a loss against Sporting Kansas City, with a shoulder injury.

The two teams did a bit of business midweek as the Union sent forward Lionard Pajoy to D.C. in exchange for midfielder Danny Cruz. It's likely both players will debut for their new club today. Cruz will likely play due to injuries to Michael Farfan and Gabriel Farfan. The Farfan brothers may play, but it's unlikely they'll be able to go the full 90 minutes. Pajoy will likely play as a result of an injury to Maicon Santos and a viral infection for Hamid Salihi.

Union coach John Hackworth will have Jack McInereny and Carlos Valdes back in the fold. McInereny returns from suspension. Valdes is back from duty with the Colombian National Team. What will Valdes' return mean for new signing Bakary Soumare and the entrenched Amobi Okugo? With their playoff hopes fading I'd imagine the Union brass want to see Soumare as much as possible.

He looked incredibly rusty last week, particularly when Sherjill MacDonald rounded him on the endline, but that is to be expected for a player making his season debut. Okugo has been fantastic alongside Valdes, but it's important for evaluation purposes to see how Valdes and Soumare play together.

Another player affected by the recent transactions is Chandler Hoffman, who may see increased playing time with the departure of Pajoy. Hoffman, the Union's first round pick in 2012, got the start against Chicago last week and may be a part of the first XI this evening.

No matter who takes the field for the Union they'll have to deal with the attacking duo of Andy Najar and MLS All-Star Game MVP Chris Pontius. Najar is coming off of an impressive Olympics with Honduras, where he attracted the eyes of a number of Premier League teams. Pontius has been in tremendous form all season, leading United with 10 goals.

The Union have had their struggles on the road, going just 2-7-1 thus far, but need to get their act together if they hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

On Wednesday, the Sixers traded Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks in exchange for Tiago Splitter and a 2017 second-round pick, as well as the option to swap 2017 second-round selections (see story).

"I want to thank Ersan Ilyasova for his positive contributions to this organization both on and off the basketball court," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said in a statement. "Ersan is a true professional whose daily examples of hard work, focus and consistency have helped facilitate the ongoing growth of our program and culture."

The Sixers took to Instagram to express their appreciation for Ilyasova’s leadership. Ilyasova quickly embraced the role of a veteran go-to when he was traded to the Sixers in early November. Both posts below exemplify his team-first mentality.

✊🏼 A true Pro @ersanilyasova7

A post shared by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Thanks for being a great teammate @ersanilyasova7. Wishing you the best in ATL

A post shared by Rob Covington (@atf_33) on

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rickard Rakell broke a tie with his second goal with 2:34 to play, and the Anaheim Ducks snapped Boston's four-game winning streak under new coach Bruce Cassidy with a 5-3 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday night.

Rakell also scored in the second period for the Ducks and has 24 goals in his outstanding season. Ondrej Kase, Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Anaheim, and Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves in his first victory since Jan. 23.

Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal in the third period for the Bruins, who hadn't lost since Cassidy replaced Claude Julien on Feb. 7. Defensemen Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara scored early goals, and Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots.

Anaheim beat Boston for the seventh straight time (see full recap).

Rare goal from Russell lifts Oilers over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Russell's goal with 7:58 left was his first in more than a year and lifted the Edmonton Oilers over Florida 4-3 on Wednesday night to snap the Panthers' five-game winning streak.

Russell's goal was his first since Feb. 11, 2016, when he played for Calgary. He went goalless in his first 48 games with the Oilers.

Fellow defenseman Oscar Klefbom also scored for Edmonton, as did forwards Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Connor McDavid, who came into the night leading the NHL scoring race, had an assist on Russell's goal.

Aleksander Barkov, Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Florida. Keith Yandle had two assists for the Panthers, giving him 400 points for his career.

Cam Talbot stopped 31 shots for the Oilers, who have won their last eight games at Florida -- last losing on the Panthers' ice in 2002. James Reimer made 31 saves for the Panthers, who just completed a 5-0-0 road trip (see full recap).